“Be joyful in hope . . .” – Romans 12:12
People with joy, I have determined, are without exception people with hope. The two characteristics simply go hand in hand. A great example was Jim, a man to whom I had been introduced in the summer of 2005 as a potential buyer of his business. Actually it was his wife Mimi who had founded the business and built it into the well-respected successful enterprise it had once been, until ill health took its toll and the business began to fail. The responsibility fell on Jim to try to salvage it, but with limited experience and resources it seemed the only hope was to find someone who could acquire the few remaining assets and take over the operation, that prospective someone being me.
For weeks Jim and I worked side by side, often long hours at a time, simply trying to keep the doors open long enough so I could perform proper due diligence. Jim kept up the sales efforts while both of us negotiated with clients, vendors, creditors, and sales representatives. It was a tense time, but especially for Jim and Mimi who were on the verge of losing everything. Yet, throughout it all Jim remained cheerful and hopeful.
Jim and I developed a great friendship during that time. I found myself desperately wanting it all to work out so he and Mimi might salvage their financial lives. At the same time Jim was equally concerned that it be a good investment for me. In the end, however, it simply didn’t work out and the transaction fell through. My heart broke for Jim and Mimi as we went our separate ways. Yet even in those darkest of times – a sick wife, failed business, and personal bankruptcy – Jim wasted no time on self-pity and continued to maintain his sense of joy and hope. Not long afterwards we lost touch. . . .
. . . . . until one cold winter day several months later when my cell phone rang. It was Jim calling to check in, staying in touch. Here was a man in his mid-sixties who had lost everything, living with relatives because he and Mimi could no longer afford a place of their own, trying to pick up the pieces and start all over, yet in his voice was that ever present joyful hope. “Be joyful in hope,” the Apostle Paul reminds us. And to that Jim had been a powerful witness.